September 23; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Moderator: Edwin Newman, Baltimore Sun
Gerald Ford v. Jimmy Carter September 23, 1976
a sixteen-year absence, presidential debates were once again
held and televised. Unlike the debates between Kennedy and
Nixon in 1960, the Ford-Carter debates of 1976 were each held
before a studio audience, although the television networks
were not allowed to show audience reaction shots.
Technical Difficulties: Disaster strikes during the first
For twenty-seven minutes during the first presidential debate
in sixteen years, technical disaster struck as the audio transmission
failed. As ABC newsman Harry Reasoner vamped for the viewers
at home, the candidates stood awkwardly at their podiums.
Once sound was restored, the candidates concluded the debate
with closing remarks.
6; San Francisco, California
Moderator: Pauline Fredrick, NPR
response to a question on the Helsinki Agreement put to him
by Max Frankel of the New York Times, President Ford commited
his infamous "gaffe" over the extent of the Soviet Union's
domination of Eastern Europe.
October 22; Williamsburg, Virginia
Moderator: Barbara Walters, ABC News
response to his controversial Playboy interview
Watergate, Ford's presidential pardon of Richard Nixon, and
political scandal fresh in the minds of voters, journalist
Robert Maynard of the Washington Post questioned Carter about
his controversial interview with Playboy magazine.